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Good Village Voice article about the various protests staged around New York on 9/11. The one at the World Trade Center--vocally endorsing the "Controlled Demolition" theory, which says that the towers shouldn't have pancaked the way they did just from burning jet fuel--pissed a lot of Ground Zero visitors off, who are still in the Al Qaeda Worked Alone and Bush Is Our Savior mode, including some firemen, who yelled back at the protesters. I happened to be walking by the site and saw the protesters in their black T shirts before they assembled with signs, etc,. and knew something was up. Really wanted to stop and talk with them, ask a few questions, but had to go to work. The 9/11 commission report sits in my throat like a half-digested wad of gristle--of course it's a whitewash, there are too many unexplained mysteries about that day, like where were the damned fighter planes? and why did Tower 7 fall, where no plane hit? At the very least 9/11 represented massive government negligence, just as we saw with Katrina, and yet Bush fired no one. A guy named George left a comment here once saying "There will always be conspiracy theories." Yeah, well, whatever helps you sleep at night.
Richard Roeper's list of pull quotes from the Katrina humanitarian disaster is here; definitely worth a read. I see from my pro-Bush Comcast mail page that the President is taking responsibility again. Didn't he do that once before, take full responsibility, and then not do anything?
Better pictures of Stefan Eberstadt's Rucksack Haus (backpack house), discussed previously here. Thanks to Chihcheng Peng at Eyebeam for reBlogging the post, and Regine at We Make Money Not Art for re-reBlogging it, with additional details and commentary. (Update: my original post now has more pics, as well as an eyewitness report).
Burgertime 3 made this comment in response to the previous post about iTunes:
I like how the "artists' computer company" doesn't offer an mp3 player that's capable of recording at decent quality. The ipod linux project revealed that the hardware can actually record at better quality, it's only limited to a low bitrate because the ipod firmware is crippleware. can't help but think it's because they're in bed with the RIAA.Many hippie communes failed because capitalism provided what was for most people a better life, due to economies of scale, distributed workloads, etc. Communalism in the digital arena, in the form of open source principals, file sharing, and so forth, actually produces a viable alternative to capitalism. Products such as Firefox, Thunderbird, and LAME for mp3-ripping are just as good or better than the commercial alternatives. As I told a friend who is working with Linux, it's important even for those of us who don't use it to have some kind of ideal standard in mind--to know it exists and that it functions in a superior way. Something like the voluntary licensing scheme for online music sales Downhill Battle proposes would work, just like Firefox works, and culture would be richer for it. iTunes, on the other hand, is a compromise scheme; it is a shame that people are embracing it, and that it seems to be on the way to becoming the standard, the way Windows is the standard, just because the record companies are so litigious and have attempted to shut down everything else that threatens their "old" (entrenched, top heavy, corrrupt) way of doing things.
I've been avoiding iTunes as a consumer and a producer with only the vaguest thought for why it rubbed me the wrong way, other than (i) the evil record companies haven't shut it down so it must be bad, (ii) $1.00 a song seems way too high for a compressed file when more good ones than you could ever listen to can be found free on the web, (iii) fads suck and Apple, after being the cool company for so many years, is starting to suck, and (iv) headphones for recreational listening are bad for your long-term hearing.
Thanks to Francis Hwang for linking to the musicians' rights organization Downhill Battle, which has this page up explaining exactly what's wrong with iTunes and proposing a much more wholesome scheme called "voluntary collective licensing." One good reason for avoiding the iTunes empire is
Despite huge new efficiencies created by internet distribution--no CDs to make, no distributors to store and ship them, no CD stores to build and run--artists receive the same pathetic cut [as they do from their exploitative record contracts]. That is the disaster of iTunes. Instead of using this new medium to empower musicians and their fans, it helps the record industry cartel perpetuate the exploitation. Apple might say it's not their fault: after all, they didn't write the unfair record contracts. But when Apple supports and profits from an obviously unfair system, while telling customers that it's "fair to the artists," they are just as guilty. [Per Downhill Battle, Apple recently removed the claim that iTunes is "fair to the artists" from their website.]Hwang recently had a run-in with the not-so-benevolent Apple when he put a parody iPod up for sale on eBay. Referencing the infamous early copyright debacle where rich rockers U2 went after indies Negativland and bled them dry from legal fees for no apparent reason other than because they could, Hwang sold an actual, functioning, repackaged-but-not-otherwise-altered iPod loaded with eight Negativland albums, "to get you started in your subversive listening habits." This was clearly an art project, prank, legitimate act of protest, or what have you; proceeds were to go the the aforementioned Downhill Battle.
The humorless Apple predictably stopped the eBay sale. Hwang received an email from the online auctioneer telling him "We would like to let you know that we removed your listing: 2290680118 Unauthorized iPod U2 vs. Negativland Special Edition because an intellectual property rights owner notified us, under penalty of perjury, that your listing infringes the rights owner's copyright, trademark, or other rights." (Perjury means lying under oath. I assume this means Apple had to swear the infringement claim was valid. It could be clearer.)
Hwang's project is further explained in Rhizome's Net Art News, which perhaps goes a tad light on the heavies ("Apple contributed to the poetry of the object" by stopping the sale?), and on this page of Hwang's. His first iPod is no longer for sale, but a second version is included in Negativland's current show, which I haven't seen, at Gigantic Art Space in NYC.
Creepy as he is, Karl Rove is politically gifted. WIthin days of the White House's media black eye in New Orleans he was circulating two memes--"blame game" and "we had to deliberate carefully on sending US troops in because of the Posse Comitatus laws." Both utter bullshit, but they sound plausible and the media is biting.
Today in the New York area it's just as beautiful outside as it was September 11 four years ago, which should give us a worried feeling. It's especially troublesome that the people who were in power on that horrible, sad day are still in power, thanks to 59 million incredibly stupid American voters. Thanks, guys!
Added to the links at left: Thorrific. When I lived in Dallas I used to say the city was "a great source of negative inspiration, ha ha" while slowly rotting inside. Eventually fled screaming ten years ago but Thorrific (aka Thor Johnson) stays there and makes good art, music and video, while also documenting with his camera what former prisoner Randall Adams, framed by the Dallas DA's office and freed in the '80s by Errol Morris, called the "hell on earth that is Dallas County." Recommended is the animated vid "Adventures of the Christian Pirate Pussies," based on the beliefs of certain idiot wackos in freeway churches and, sadly, at the highest levels of the US government, that a "red heifer" must be born and sacrificed in Jerusalem before Jay-sus can come again. In the video, the eponymous vaginas transport such a beast, genetically engineered in a lab in Texas, to the holy land by pirate ship, while a talking, flying bible explains the superstitious beliefs surrounding it. Thorrific's photographs likewise excel; think William Eggleston not just as a chronicler of the quirky beauty of the South but someone burning up with hatred for the epidemic obesity and preacher-promulgated ignorance so abundant in that part of the world. (Start with the Texas State Fair photos, but they're all pretty powerful.) Lastly, check out the site's streaming files of spacy, dubbed-out atmospheric tunes, layering Thorrific's guttural didgeridoo-playing with jangly, ominous electronics. A web-place well worth your time: oppositional culture at its finest.
Chris Ashley presents greatest hits from two years of posting daily html drawings. Not to take away from any others, but this one's a beaut, fusing golden section neoplatonism, designer paint swatches, and what I can only see as a pictogram of a hand (Four, July 28, 2005, HTML, 404 x 344 pixels).
The participation of Chris, jimpunk, Linkoln, and me in the empyre listserv forum in June, as "artists who blog," seems to have thrown a spanner in everyone's works. As explained here earlier, it went badly, with the moderators allowing a bunch of faux-academic boors to bash blogs and bloggers. I bailed after two weeks and still wake up in a cold sweat. Shortly thereafter, Ashley went on hiatus from daily html drawing posting (since resumed with added photo-imagery), jimpunk disappeared from Screenfull, followed by Linkoln, after posting a "searching for jimpunk" drawing. Maybe "artists blogging" is a fragile thing, even if the artists aren't fragile people, a pursuit to be cherished and supported as opposed to acting all threatened about.